Question

A huge step backward--what are you guys thinking?


Userlevel 2
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Is the new community your idea of an improvement? It is anything but an improvement. Several important threads I started have lost content. When I try and type a response, I can't see the entire response I am creating--it only allows me to see a couple of lines at a time.

I am a long-time Sonos user, and I feel that I have been slapped in the face. Sonos no longer has my endorsement.

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285 replies

Userlevel 2
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Time to move on. The recent changes to the SONOS forum have ruined an enjoyable pastime for me. I used to visit the forum daily to see new posts, read about issues and solutions, find interesting facts about SONOS systems, internet radio and music services. I have continued to visit the forum for the last 3 or 4 days but its not fun anymore. It is too difficult to find topics and posts that interest me. When I do find them, it is difficult to navigate to the where I left off the last visit. New posts that interest me are difficult to find, the forum topics are not laid out logically (at least not logical for this old bird). There are too many other interesting things to spend my time on. I will miss the old community and the knowledge base that I found both interesting and entertaining. I will probably visit from time to time but my daily visits are over. I feel like I'm losing an old friend but things change. Sometimes changes are not positive and I've learned over time that you cannot go back.
My objections to this change are pretty varied, but most of it fits in the categories of 'privacy' and 'usability'.

I'll take the latter first. What I say here is meant to apply to the desktop metaphor, but there are lessons for the mobile designers as well.

After years of using vBulletin forums, I'm very much acclimated to them. I think they represent an enormous segment of the membership-driven forums for a good reason. They are incredibly configurable, easy to find one's way around, and very solid. I'm a member of several enthusiast sites that have been running that platform for 15 years, and aside from server upgrades and slight re-skins, everything works and works well.

I've seen a few notable, irritating trends come and go in the past twenty years in media. Back in the mid-late 90s, when "shaky cam" was getting popular on police procedurals and other tv shows, and the blink tag was frying our brains on the early, grey Tripod and GeoCities pages, print media used these aggravating lines to "call out" pieces of text. By the time the trend started to fade, it wasn't uncommon for a regular two page article to look like it had been attacked by string art wielding maniacs with a fixation on 90 degree angles.
Later on I saw some minor trends like pointer rollover sounds and popups, overuse of animation and embedded video, and social media links everywhere, but nothing really major jumped out, until just a few weeks ago. Now I see the new trend is towards endless scrolling pages with gigantic white or colored areas. Apple recently "updated" their site to incorporate this, and its not good. They previously had one of the easiest to use sites on the net. Not anymore. Now simply looking for specs on a piece of gear means scrolling several pages of ad copy instead of getting to the point. You should only need to scroll when you can't fit all the relevant info in a single page length at your most common resolution. It seems to me that the screen real estate is mostly wasted and the scrolling is then needed to get some info - ANY info - to the user.
I have a fairly large 27 inch display. At 2560x1440 resolution I shouldn't have to scroll anywhere to read the first page of a site. Yet when I look at the Community home page, what should fit in one page now requires 2.5 pages. This takes the new "scrolling for the sake of scrolling" paradigm to a whole new level. Optimization obviously wasn't given a priority. On the Community home page I'm confronted with several unnecessary things, swimming in a sea of white, with a gigantic, useless banner "welcoming" me by name, and fat black bands at the top and bottom.

The top band could be optimized and kept. Its very useful and should contain the most important empiricals.
Theres a 4x4 matrix of items with only three buttons used? Flatten that matrix. Get rid of the cart and "Find a Dealer" and move those to the Shop pulldown. Move the language tab to the main bar as a country flag. Now its a slim, useful toolbar.
Get rid of the giant Community banner. The search/ask box can be added anywhere else. Its doesn't need its own country taking up one third of the page.
The "popular tags" callout underneath it - what is that for? You shouldn't see a popular tags list unless you are in an advanced search window.
"Popular tags" are "#Playbar, #sonos," etc? This isn't Twitter. There is absolutely no need to use the '#' in front of anything searched on this site. And for those of use who grew up prior to Twitter, that reads as "Pound Playbar, Pound Sonos". Its ridiculous. Like Twitter users who respond to people in forums by calling them "@Name".
Section headers are in 32pt type? Why?
Putting "most recent questions" up for each section is great - when you can read them. As I post this, here's some of those questions:

"Question: So, what's the plan Sono..."
"Question: Sonos Controller lost co..."
"Question: Why won't my playlists f..."
"Question: anyone made the leap and..."

See, they make no sense, and add no value to the user experience. To make things even more confusing and useless, you have a column on the right side that has perfectly readable questions divided up into recently answered and unanswered. Either make the "most recent question per section" concept work, or stay with the column and reclaim that section real estate. Personally, I'd go with the column. But when using the column, make sure its relevant to the section. When I click one level deeper from the home page, the column should show me answered/unanswered for that section, not the same things as the home page. And it definitely doesn't need to keep showing me my profile. Also, frame the damned column. There is no need for it to scroll with the rest of the page unless it scrolls to reveal more information, not more white space.

That useful column is wasted on a couple of things, like the Badges and Most Liked. These are not front page items. This isn't a popularity contest. A badge system for participation is fine, but put the badge next to the user's name in their posts, not on the front page. And "Most liked this month"??? This isn't front page news. vBulletin used rep dots under the person's avatar, and it was an easy, efficient way to monitor a person's contributions.

The remainder of the column is wasted on displaying half of my personal profile, the other half of which is viewable if I click on that part of the column. This is useless, wasted space. Do it like a real forum, and put my name up in the bar as a pulldown, with quick links underneath it.

Here's one last note about the usability that needs to be addressed, and that is the posting window. As I post this message, I am typing in a non-expandable box that is exactly 7 lines high. Once I get past a paragraph I lose track of what I've already typed, and its harder for me to edit my post.

Next up: privacy.
I'm not wanting to play politics here, nor shoot the messenger, but I think what you're basically saying Ryan is that the InSided platform wasn't fit for purpose. In that case I wholeheartedly agree. Someone somewhere made a bad call.
Userlevel 3
Badge +1
Well said TJRL! My enthusiasm for my Sonos has been well and truly trashed since the move from the previous forum to "this Community thing". Riddled with spam, it no longer stokes my urge to post on it, which I used to do quite regularly. Why Sonos continues to stick with Insided I just cannot fathom! I note that Kenneth R (the original and main proponent of this new board) has mysteriously vanished from the Sonos scene. I suppose it's too much to hope he is quietly beavering away in the background to fix its myriad shortcomings?

Not very impressed either by the changes imposed in recent software revisions. They seem more geared to new customers, with scant attention paid to the needs of the older and longer term Sonos client base. Lots of promises to pass on comments to "the team", but nothing very much ever happens.
Same here. Was a constant source of information, with little tidbits gleaned from threads not only as a novice years ago, with almost daily browsing continuing until last week. Now it has become a chore to come here.
Userlevel 7
Badge +17
Time to move on. The recent changes to the SONOS forum have ruined an enjoyable pastime for me. I used to visit the forum daily to see new posts, read about issues and solutions, find interesting facts about SONOS systems, internet radio and music services. I have continued to visit the forum for the last 3 or 4 days but its not fun anymore. It is too difficult to find topics and posts that interest me. When I do find them, it is difficult to navigate to the where I left off the last visit. New posts that interest me are difficult to find, the forum topics are not laid out logically (at least not logical for this old bird). There are too many other interesting things to spend my time on. I will miss the old community and the knowledge base that I found both interesting and entertaining. I will probably visit from time to time but my daily visits are over. I feel like I'm losing an old friend but things change. Sometimes changes are not positive and I've learned over time that you cannot go back.

Totally with you Jim. Seems this site has been rushed out with (seemingly) very minimal user feedback before launch so missing even some basic functionality (Add to Favorite from mobile site, no content in email notifications, cant sort by date in results, cant navigate to your last read post under 'Active Since Last Visit' or 'Recent Active Topics' double DOH !). For a company that goes to great lengths with alpha/beta testing their own software they did a pretty pi$$ poor job on this.

First impressions last and Im sorry to say they're going to have to make some rapid changes to get me to come back regularly. I used to enjoy participating, helping others out (and even having the odd moan) but cant see that happening much any more..
Badge +3
I hate it. I’ve lost count of all the websites I used to drop into on a daily basis that I now no longer bother with. The ones I’ve stuck with over the years need to be easy to navigate and also look good. This is neither. Why do things always have to be designed for people who have yet to reach their 20th birthday?
Gotta agree with ratty here. Much of my support on the other site relied on me doing an advanced search on techniques that have worked before, and doing a cut and paste. Unfortunately, since the search function here is absolutely worthless (actually it is less than worthless), I sometimes neglect supporting a poster that I may have otherwise done a quick search for. If there are no advanced search functions possible in the current platform (or at the very least, a search for posts instead of threads), there was indeed a bad call made. Forum searches by date, user, subject, terms, sub-forum, etc., are basic functionality that should be expanded upon, not eliminated, when choosing new software.
Userlevel 3
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Like OPs such as TJRL, ratty, BarryM and others, I agree totally. The new community is not a patch on the old forum, which I thoroughly enjoyed visiting. My own post count has plummeted.
Userlevel 7
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I just received a community survey and directed them to this topic. Lets hope someone has noticed a nosedive in community activity and actually plans on doing something about it sometime soon.
As it's now a year since this board debuted I somehow doubt it's going to receive anything like the remedial attention demanded. Maybe it's headed for a complete overhaul/replacement?

Apart from the odd thread with some earnest discussion this 'community' is now mostly a support site. Part of that may be a simple reflection of the changing demographic in the user base, the amount of time/money/commitment the user is willing to expend, and the fact that for longstanding customers Sonos 'just works'.


I have come back after being away for a "few" months and still not change, despite the promises. I love Sonos and I loved the old site (now long gone it seems) but this Community thing is just pants.

I used to check the Sonos forum every day without fail unless out of the country, now I go months and months not looking in because when I do I cannot find anything interesting to look at. A forum for interested users and a support site for support questions how hard is that? Not very we had it a year ago!
SO MUCH WHITE SPACE! another web site to help me go blind.
Yeah, this is very much style over function. The old vBulletin was ugly and outdated looking, but it worked so much better than this! Moving to something like ZenForo would have added the style while keeping the function. Sigh.
http://contrastrebellion.com/ (and the content presented) should be Required Reading.

Why has Beynym's question upon this sensitive subject sat there for over 5 days without response? And you have ignored all of his polite follow ups! He has raised the issue at least 4 times now, across two separate threads?!! And this is your opening week, where one would expect your best behaviour. Where are your staff Moderators? IMO this is a serious FAIL.
.

A thunderous silence, I believe, is the right phrase here:-)).
Sonos can't be as stupid as that, intentionally. This is a resource to guide new buyers and to existing ones that face issues with their install. Pull the plug on that, and you may as well shoot yourself in one foot.

Employee mods will be able to take some of the resultant load, but not all, as is already visible.

Unintentionally of course there is no limit to how stupid the suits can be.
short term, there would be an adverse effect if forum expertise does a mass exit.
The sense I'm getting is that a number have already headed for the door. The question then is how to best recapture their interest.
The platform does have some room to grow for sure, but it certainly is fit for purpose.

Ryan, I understand that you would be required to talk it up, but that comment makes you look cynical at worst, or out of touch at best.

Maybe it holds true if you are talking about your internal Sonos "customers", but if you are talking about us external customers, it is just plain annoying to read.

This new site is markedly less fit for purpose than the facility which it replaced. And Sonos delivery against assurances made during the conversion angst is deficient. ie. this from four months ago from the presumed Manager of this area of your business.

This platform is different from the ones it has replaced, and will never function in exactly the same way, but contrary to the previous platforms we will be able to optimise and make improvements over time. We’ve received great feedback, and as promised, we intend to communicate transparently about what we can and can’t do to improve the community in the weeks and months to come.

This topic will be the place where we maintain a list of upcoming changes that have been asked for and where we post updates when something is implemented.


This then ... nothing ... ?

Just how can this facility be seen as fit for use?

It frustrates your Customer Champions, and hampers their efforts on you behalf
* hopeless search facility as illustrated by jgatie above
* list of most recent posts is non-informative; can't see who posted, when they posted expressed in our own time zone, whether they have been responded to, nor any summary of what they said (all this is at least a further two clicks and Internet lags away, ie. you have to open the thread, and then re-sort it to display the recent submission ... and you have do that individually for each thread ... how is that fit for use?)

It disengages casual or social visitors
* non-informative emails when there is activity in a favourited threads or forums
* deprecated Lounge area (hidden down the bottom of the pack)
* less facility to customise forum signature for social connections (LFM profile, hobby web sites etc) ... no facility to put these into public profiles either
* no preview facility for posts
* no way to see a summary of what is new and unread since last visit
* social activity has all but died, precisely because the forum is not fit for use ... you got any other theory why there is less activity ?

It closes down the customer voice:
* we lost the facility to suggest, and vote upon, product improvements
* we lost focus upon any customer suggestions due the loss of voting and the ranking that it provided
* no Unsupported Forum for community projects

Unpleasant to read:
* much glare for those with eyesight challenges

Less useful as a self help resource
* search facility is close to useless

The experience on a mobile device is even less fit for use:
* no ready access to threads we have interacted in or are monitoring
* am I still unable to edit my posts using your mobile platform? I haven't checked lately.

We're looking forward to working with them to make the community the best it can be, and the best Sonos community we've ever had.

Yeah, well it has been five months now.

Maybe I am being unfair, and have forgotten your achievements. Could you list the progress so far?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Ryan S,

Thank you for your reply to my post of a day ago and to all the others who took the trouble to also post a reply. I guess I am still wondering why 5 months in we still do not anything remotely like the required functionality of the old forum?

I do not seem myself as a luddite and normally embrace change, but the old Ask Sonos page seemed to work for those with questions and the kept the old forum clean and useable. I used to be a reasonably regular reader and poster on the old forum but my number of visits to the current Community has dropped off considerably! I do not have the metrics, but I suspect if we were to look at all the regular contributors (6 months ago) on the old forum and their actively now I would not be alone in this.

In short, after 5 months the new Community is not as good as the old forum. If that was the intention then fine, job done. But if Sonos were trying to improve things then big fail I am afraid.
Despite being long in the tooth and evidently a bit hard for the admins to maintain, the vBulletin platform version used by the original Sonos forums was far more functional than this one (leaving aside the 'social' baubles). Even the GetSatisfaction platform used by Ask.Sonos -- which ran in parallel with the old discussion forums for several years as more of a Q&A place -- was in many respects better.

Rather than combining the best aspects of the vBulletin and GetSatisfaction boards we lost a great deal. BarryM's is a good summary.

A key rationale for ditching both previous boards was to bring everything under one roof, including all the 10 years of historical threads. The dreadful irony is that those old threads might as well have been consigned to oblivion, such is the uselessness of the built-in search facility. I get better results by using Google's site search.
Userlevel 7
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Another month has gone by and it still seems nothing has been improved in the last month or did I miss something?
Userlevel 6
Badge +16
I like the new community. The desktop website is definitely less buggy than the mobile version right now.
Were the replies in those threads posted after Sunday? (I have noticed the two line bug on mobile too and it's pretty annoying)

Also this community is new so content is still being moved over and bugs are still being fixed.
Userlevel 6
Badge +16
Thank you, I found the topics thing, though I am quite sure I have started a lot more threads than the 25 shown over there.
Says that you've created 64 threads for me.
Userlevel 6
Badge +16

Thank you, I found the topics thing, though I am quite sure I have started a lot more threads than the 25 shown over there.

The number next to topics shows 64, but when I click it, it goes to a page with 25 topics. What am I doing wrong?

I believe that is a result of the sorting that SONOS needs to do. Some topics (39 in your case) exist as far as the website is concerned, but are not accessible yet.

It has happened with some of my posts too
99.9% of my forum (Community) activity is on a keyboard. I don't enjoy "typing" by touching a slab or brick. And, I can be so much more productive with more screen real estate. And, in my opinion, the current trend for lots of white space in layouts wastes a bunch of real estate and my time.
I share your pain jim, my visits here will probably be put on the back burner too for more or less the same reasons. Pitty.